Surviving PTSD: Women Veterans and Non-Combative Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Combative/Non-Combative: PTSD is PTSD
The vicious attack replays like a weekend, horror movie marathon. Night sweats, talking while asleep, and tossing and turning are signs of severe trauma. Many active duty and veteran military personnel suffer from PTSD. The impact of PTSD on women military personnel and veterans is being addressed.
According to Womenshealth.gov,
“Women are more likely than men to develop chronic, or long-lasting, PTSD after experiencing a trauma. Not all women who experience a traumatic event develop PTSD. However, women are more likely to develop PTSD if they:
- Have a past mental health problem (like depression or anxiety)
- Experience a very severe or life-threatening trauma
- Were sexually assaulted
- Were injured during the event
- Had a severe reaction at the time of the event
- Experienced other stressful events afterwards
- Do not have good social support
Some PTSD symptoms are more common in women than in men. Women are more likely to be jumpy, to have trouble feeling emotions, and to avoid things that remind them of the trauma.”
My Personal Story
For more than six months, a fellow shipmate and his wife had stalked and threatened me. I reported verbally and in writing every threat to my Commanding Officer, Executive Officer, and division chief. Although I followed the proper chain of command, the threats continued.
Prior to the attack, my shipmate’s wife called threatening to cut my throat. I phoned the base police. While taking my report, the phone rang and one of the officers answered. As he listened, I could hear the verbal threats. The officer informed my shipmate’s wife he would include her threats in the police report. After hanging up the phone, the officer told me there was nothing to be done since the caller lived off base. He encouraged me to file a report with the civilian authorities. When I attempted to file a complaint with the civilian police, they informed me that because I was military and lived on base, I had to file my complaint with military authorities. I was stuck. There would be no protection for me.
The next day my shipmate and his wife brutally attacked me. They had followed me the entire day and caught me while I sat in my car. Hit twice in the face with a sock filled with quarters, I bled profusely and required stitches above both eyebrows. With swollen eyes, visible bruising and stitches, I returned to my ship the next day and reported the incident. The XO informed me it was my word against my shipmate. Therefore, nothing would be done.
That was the fall of 1989, and I still have nightmares and problems going in public. When I do venture out, I’m anxious and hyper-attentive. I’ve silently suffered because I didn’t believe PTSD applied to me as I hadn’t served in an active war. I’m sure there are other female military veterans who have suffered silently. I encourage them to seek help. There is hope. The road is long; but a road worth traveling toward healing.
Mental Health. (2010, March 29). Retrieved from Department of Health and Human Services on Women's Health: http://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/veterans/